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Home   Medway   News   Article

Mum Gemma Tolley and daughter Paige forced to live in cramped Gillingham home despite suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder and depression

24 March 2014
by Clare Freeman

Gemma Tolley, 30, was forced to live in her mother’s Gillingham home by neighbours, who she says threatened her with a baseball bat last June.

Nine months later, Ms Tolley is still living in the two-bedroom house and doctors fear for her and Paige’s health.

Daniel Baptist (Paige's dad) - Gemma Tolley and Paige Baptist

Daniel Baptist (Paige's dad) - Gemma Tolley and Paige Baptist

Medway Council says Ms Tolley had already had accommodation in a London borough and was looking into her case.

Ms Tolley and Paige are in one room, with Paige sleeping on a mat, with not even enough space to fully open the door.

Ms Tolley’s mother is in the second room and her sister Rebecca has the box room.

At night the living room doubles up as a bedroom for Ms Tolley’s brother, James, and her ex-stepdad.

This situation would be far from ideal for any family but for Ms Tolley the living conditions are toxic as she, Paige and James all have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), her mother has fibromyalgia, Rebecca is also autistic and has ADHD, and her ex-stepdad moved back into the home when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Paige with Shadow the cat

Paige with Shadow the cat

Ms Tolley explained that people with ASD are required to have their own room and the overcrowding in the house is leading to fights and severely affecting their mental health.

“You can’t have your own space to escape,” she said. “There is no privacy, nowhere to get five minutes’ peace and quiet.”

Ms Tolley is on maximum medication for her depression and her doctor believes that her living conditions pose a serious health hazard.

Two doctors have written to Medway Council expressing their concerns.

In one letter, the doctor said that Ms Tolley “meets the criteria of those who need to move urgently because of a life-threatening illness and the property where she is living is directly contributing to the deterioration of Gemma’s health”.

The Gillingham house is too crowded, according to Gemma

The Gillingham house is too crowded, according to Gemma

Ms Tolley and Paige are on a waiting list for housing but are in band B, even though medical professionals believe she should be in band A.

She added: “I feel I am being fobbed off. I’m having to do all the work for them to support my case because they can’t be bothered to come over and see what’s going on.”

An independent medical adviser is looking in to her case but Ms Tolley said that when she asked the council to send someone round they told her they did not have a medical adviser. She said they refuse to believe she is an emergency case.

“You can’t have your own space to escape. There is no privacy, nowhere to get five minutes’ peace and quiet” - Gemma Tolley

Rehman Chishti MP said: “The constituent has raised her concerns with me about her housing situation and I have made representations to the local authority on her behalf.”

Medway Council said: “We understand Ms Tolley has accommodation outside of Medway provided by a council in London.

"We are looking into whether this out-of-area address is reasonable for the tenant concerned and once this is complete, decisions about her living accommodation can be made.”


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